By Staff Correspondent
Dubai-based airline Emirates is eyeing significant growth potential in the Indian market for the next financial year, according to a senior executive. Despite a weekly cap on the number of seats it can offer on routes to and from India, the airline remains optimistic about its Indian operations.
India is one of Emirates’ top five markets in terms of volume and value. Mohammad Sarhan, the company’s Vice President for India and Nepal, said that Emirates was on track to achieving its passenger and revenue targets for India in the current financial year. “The growth here is massive, with demand outstripping supply,” he said.
The airline carried over 4.4 million passengers between Dubai and India in 2022, up from over 1.3 million the previous year, and expects healthy growth in its Indian operations as the demand momentum remains consistent. The current passenger seat occupancy, also called seat factor, from and to India is very strong.
Sarhan said the leisure segment led the traffic resurgence, followed by a revival in business and corporate travel. “We have seen a rise in business travel to and from India. The market here seems to be resistant to any slowdown. Even the weddings segment has seen growth.”
Despite the exponential growth potential, the weekly seat cap imposed on the number of seats it can offer on routes to and from India remains a crucial hurdle to tapping the market’s full potential. Emirates and its affiliate FlyDubai have a weekly quota of 66,000 seats to and from India per week.
Emirates is committed to the Indian market and has already deployed the total permitted capacity from 1 April 2022. However, due to the weekly seat cap, the airline needs to expand operations to India. Sarhan pointed out that the cap on the number of weekly seats is a hurdle to meeting the enormous demand, and Emirates is seeking to increase the bilateral seat entitlements for the Dubai-India routes under the air services agreement between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Dubai has been consistently the single largest international market for Indian carriers, attesting to the critical importance of the India-Dubai route. “With new airlines and airports coming up in India, we would welcome both the incumbent and new players to also get the right to increase operations or launch new flights between India and Dubai,” Sarhan said.
Emirates began operations in India in 1985 with scheduled services to Mumbai and Delhi. The airline operates flights to over 140 destinations globally from its hub in Dubai.